We’re back on good wifi after an amazing five days in the jungle, first at the Kinabatangan River, then in the Danum Valley. I’ll do my best to catch up, mostly with photos. We’re now in Kota Kinabalu for another few nights. So much washing to do, so many blog posts to write….
We had a leisurely morning sleep in at the resort in Sepilok. Well, the kids did! I woke up early, as usual, and enjoyed watching the light intensify and listening to the sounds around me. The resort put on an excellent buffet breakfast. Dan and I took the opportunity to explore the resort grounds – they’re a decent size – and examine the vegetation.
We then headed off to the Kinabatangan River. Our route was shared with many trucks and other vehicles, many working on road repairs and road projects,or else involved with the oil palm plantations that lined the route.
I think that as Westerners, our kneejerk reaction to the mention of palm oil is that palm oil is ‘bad’. Like many things in life, it’s not as simple as that. Palm oil is the major export of Sabah, and is vital for the economy of this developing country. Wikipedia has a good summary of palm oil production in Malaysia. From the local people I have spoken to, many of the plantations are on land that was previous logged and cleared as part of the timber industry. The oil palms grow very quickly, produce numerous crops that are harvested by hand and turned into oil in the mills that are dotted throughout the fields, and when the palms reach the end of the their productive life they are chopped down, used for many other purposes, then the same fields replanted. Everyone agreed that the environmental impact was an issue, but that since 2010 legislation has been put in place to make the entire industry more sustainable and to reduce the impact on the jungle habitats. This National Geographic article on palm oil is worth a read. If it wasn’t for palm oil, many people in Sabah would not have the opportunity to have an education and improve their standard of living.
We only realised when our minibus pulled up next to a little jetty that we would be continuing our journey to the Borneo Nature Lodge by boat! In we jumped, along with our luggage, and zoomed down the river.
The Borneo Nature Lodge is an eco-friendly resort, with just twelve rooms. Air conditioners can only be used during certain hours, and they also provide the hot water. Most of the power is solar. The buffet meals provided were delicious, with a mix of local foods and flavours plus some options that Stella was more likely to eat. She’s a fairly picky eater, which can be a challenge in places like Borneo.
Shortly after lunch we headed off on our first boat cruise for the day. So many creatures to spot!
Obviously, the primates are a big drawcard, and it’s fascinating watching them moving about in the trees. One of the reasons that the Kinabatangan River is such a great spot for finding native wildlife is that the oil palm plantations have forced them to move to the available jungle that lines the river.
The birds are really quite amazing. The one in the blurry photo above is a woodpecker! The sound it makes is very loud – rat tat tat tat tat tat tat – as it drills into timber.
We had another lovely meal before retiring to our rooms for the night, in anticipation of an early morning boat cruise the next morning. As you’d imagine, early morning and late afternoon are the times to spot animals and birds being active.